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Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection 2:15 pm, 21st January 2020

My hon. Friend makes a vital point, and it is why the Government have a seven-year tail to this policy. The Bill does not do as much as she and I would both like it to do in delivering certainty. That is a huge problem in my constituency. I have 10,500 people working on farms in my constituency, 88% of which is farmland. Some £23.2 million a year comes into my constituency in subsidy, and it is critical to those farm businesses that they know exactly what is happening.

One problem I face is the current trend away from eating meat, which is a disaster for British agriculture. I was stopped during the general election campaign by someone who said, “Mr Wiggin, you don’t like vegetarians.” I said, “That’s not strictly true, but I do have an issue with this desire to go to a plant-based diet, because it means importing soya from Brazil. It means living with the big pharmaceutical companies determining our diet.”

I am keen that we get back to direct payments for livestock farmers, particularly in Herefordshire, and that we return to British food for British voters, constituents and consumers, so I thoroughly look forward to seeing this Bill become law, and to the Agriculture Bill that follows, so that we can get a lot of these details on to the statute book for the benefit of all concerned.